When Moses turned to leave, God spoke suddenly, “A terrible thing has happened! The people have forgotten their promises already. They are
worshiping a golden calf.”
The people had waited and waited for Moses to come down from the mountain. When Moses still did not show up, they decided he must be dead. Once again,
they chose not to trust in God. They asked Moses’ brother Aaron to make them another god. Aaron had taken their gold bracelets and rings. Using the melted gold he made them a golden calf.
God became very angry. He told Moses, “I will kill them all. I will start over in making a special people.”
Moses begged God not to kill them. Then he started down the mountain. He carried the stone tablets God had given him. The closer Moses came to the camp, the more noise he heard.
Then he saw the golden calf,gleaming in the sunshine. “You are a terrible people!” he screamed at them.
The music stopped and the people stood still.
“How could you do this after all the Lord has done for you!” Moses yelled. In his rage, he flung down the stones with God’s handwriting on them. He dashed them onto the ground with a mighty crash. They broke into a thousand tiny pieces.
Moses punished the people. Then he went back up the mountain. God told Moses that the people of Israel did not make Him smile like they used to. God was very, very disappointed.
Moses pleaded with God to forgive the people of Israel. God said because Moses was the one asking, He would listen. Because God and Moses were friends, He would remember His promises to the people.
Moses was best friends with God. He asked God, “Show me Your ways.” God told him that he would die if God let him see and learn everything there is to know about God. It would be too much.
God did say, however, that Moses could return to the top of Mount Sinai. There God would pass by so Moses could see more of God. This would be the closest anyone had ever come to God!
Moses climbed back up the mountain. The Lord came down from the cloud to be with Moses. Moses fell onto the ground. God’s glory was too great. Moses kept his eyes shut tight and said over and over again how great God was. Again he begged God to forgive the people and still make them His chosen children.
God said He would. And then He made a great promise. For the second time, God told Moses all the laws for the people. He promised to bring the people of Israel to the land He had told Abraham would belong to his children.
God gave His rules and laws for the second time. Moses chiseled out the stone and God wrote down the Law again. Moses stayed up on the mountain forty days, just as He had the first time God gave him the Ten Commandments.
After the forty days were over,Moses climbed down the cliffs. He came back to the camp. This time the people had kept their promise. They had waited for him to return. They had been good.
Moses was over a hundred years old. He called all the people together one last time. He knew he would soon die. He called out in a mighty voice, “You have a choice! All of you who want to live, raise your hands!”
The crowd mumbled, “What does he mean?”
“Of course, we want to live!”
“Yes, yes!” they called. They all raised their hands.
“All those who want to die, raise your hands!” Moses called.
The crowd quickly lowered their hands. A silence fell over them. They waited. Somewhere in the crowd a baby cried.
“Today,” Moses shouted, “you have said you choose life, not death. God wants to make a promise to you. He wants to give you food and water,
good land and large flocks. This is life. He wants to give you peace. He will give you all these things if you obey His laws.
“But if you do things on your own,if you grow proud, if you forget how God brought you out of Egypt, then you will be ruined! Do you believe me?” Moses paused.
“Yes, Moses, we will obey!” the people shouted back. Moses bowed his head and prayed it would be so. He loved the people very much, even if they had caused him so much trouble.
Before Moses died, he wrote a beautiful song for his people. He knew he was going to a different sort of promised land than Canaan. He was going to be with his best Friend, God. Moses’ song was all about the love of God. It told how faithful God had been through the years, of His power and might.
When Moses had finished singing,he felt very tired. Moses wanted so badly to see the promised land. He asked God if his time had come. “Yes,” the Lord said, “you can seethe land now, but you will not cross into it. Go up Mount Nebo. From there you will see the land of Canaan. When Moses reached the top, he
looked across the Jordan River. There was the promised land.
Moses stood on that hill for many hours. He stood and stared. His eyes drank in the sight of God’s land. Wildflowers covered the hills. Tall trees swayed in the breeze.
Moses said, “Thank You, Lord.” It was enough just to see the land.
While Moses gazed at the land which would soon belong to his people, he died. He died a strong man,still able to see and think clearly. God buried Moses in a valley near the mountain. Moses was the friend of God.